In his most recent column David Ignatius points out something I wish more Americans recognized:
But Kurdistan also has some mundane problems, starting with corruption. The country is run by traditional political parties dominated by the Barzani and Talabani clans, who have historically controlled the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK, respectively. Having the right connections, and greasing them with some cash, has become a way of life here.
I am puzzled by the fascination that so many Americans seem to have with the Kurds. I think they’re being misled. Sure, the Kurds aren’t Arabs—they’re Indo-Europeans as are the Iranians. I can’t help but see the Kurds’ “political parties” as tribal factions gussied up in democratic trappings. IMO there are reasonable concerns that the Kurds are presenting a democratic sideshow rather than real liberal democracy and what we’re seeing is just clans, tribalism, and autocracy promoted as the seeds of a modern society.
Certain Americans no doubt remain fascinated by the Kurds because if they can pretend the Kurds are kind of like us, then maybe their support for the Iraq Experiment in Imposed Democracy still has some moral justification.
Most of the ME and almost all of Africa is dominated by tribal politics and patronage. What surprises me is that so many Americans – and supposed foreign policy experts – seem to assume this is unnatural and therefore they believe the US must help these people along the path toward multi-faction nationalism.
At some point we need to recognize that “Iraq,” as a coherent nation-state, is not far from Somalia which is, at best, a loose confederation.
I just read your previous post on Libya. Clearly the NYT editors are on the list of people who’ve learned nothing during the past two decades. Their ignorance on Libya is incredibly depressing.
My interpretation is that they’re so in the bag for incumbent Democrats they’ve abandoned any semblance of principle or policy. It’s “whatever the Democrat in the White House does is good”.